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Comment: Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (Score 1) 761

by forand (#47855111) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation
That is a reasonable conclusion. That is not, however what the GP stated. The GP state the he wanted a text book written on anthropogenic climate change. That is very different than being able to explain it to a lay person that is being able to convince someone it is worth publishing. In the case of anthropogenic climate change the book would be rather short:
  • * A number of gases interact with the upper atmosphere is such a way as to trap heat within the atmosphere.
  • * Since the industrial revolution we have been releasing huge quantities of these gases that were previously sequestered within oil and gas deposits.
  • * The churn of the atmosphere allows for the passage of the newly released gases from the lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere.
  • * Some of these same gases also sublimate into the ocean where they dramatically affect the PH of the ocean which cause major problems for the top dwellers of the ocean where much of our oxygen is generated.

The issue isn't that there isn't a text book or a clear laymen description of the problem it comes when someone says: so prove to me that the churn of the lower atmosphere can carry these gasses to the upper atmosphere and the scientist starts talking about climate models which cannot predict any specific event with a high degree of accuracy but do tend to predict trends with great accuracy. To me this is like saying: what is the energy of a particle in a chamber at a defined pressure, temperature and density. The answer is very easy to give the average but essentially impossible to give the exact unless your model knows ALL of the inputs (i.e. every momentum vector and quantum state of every atom contain within the chamber).

Comment: Re:Science creates understanding of a real world. (Score 5, Insightful) 761

by forand (#47854271) Attached to: How Scientific Consensus Has Gotten a Bad Reputation
I am a physicist. I have explained the expansion of the universe to many lay people without trouble. I have also tried time and time again to explain it to my mother. All such explanations end with her asking "so where is it expanding into." The short answer to this is: nothing. And one can either accept that or learn metric differential geometry. The belief that whatever any given PhD is working on can "describe in laymen's terms what they are doing" does not mean a laymen has the knowledge to understand or even accept the details of the theory. Heck look at Quantum physics in the early 1900s and you see many very intelligent people thinking it is crazy because it is probabilistic. So in short a good scientist can explain to a laymen what they do but the laymen has to accept their expertise when it comes to many specifics.

Comment: Re: Anthropometrics (Score 1) 811

by forand (#47847383) Attached to: 3 Recent Flights Make Unscheduled Landings, After Disputes Over Knee Room
As stated by others many frequent flyers are not flying by choice but buy direction from work. That work also REQUIRES many of us to purchase the cheapest fare. I cannot upgrade my seat and get reimbursed for my ticket. Furthermore you are technically correct about United, however, unless you are flying major city to major city you are going to be one of United's local carriers which do not have Economy Plus. Spend a couple hours on one of the smaller "local" carrier planes which has neither leg nor headroom for ANYONE on the flight and it becomes quickly clear that United doesn't care about anything other then their immediate bottom line.

Comment: Hope they think about it... (Score 1) 369

by forand (#47788651) Attached to: Islamic State "Laptop of Doom" Hints At Plots Including Bubonic Plague
As others have stated most of the information doesn't seem to be any more harmful than a copy of The Cookbook. With regards to biological weapons: one would hope that whomever thought of this would keep on thinking to realize that poorer nations always fare worse when it comes to communicable diseases. They have fewer resources, longer response times, denser populations, etc.. If the biological isn't communicable it still doesn't make too much sense without some industrial scale dispersal methods which are generally easy to detect.

Comment: Re:why internet connected? (Score 1) 111

by forand (#47700731) Attached to: Hackers Steal Data Of 4.5 Million US Hospital Patients
Why can't they us a VPN AT LEAST? The GP is not ignorant but perhaps too idealistic. Personally while I don't think it is a good idea to have health records available on the internet I think it is far worse that our electrical system REQUIRES internet access and communication between various points. This is a horrible national security risk while private health records are rather difficult to either monetize or use (financial records excluded).

Comment: Re:Failure of the 20th-Century Environmental Movem (Score 1) 249

by forand (#47699451) Attached to: The Cost of Caring For Elderly Nuclear Plants Expected To Rise
I agree that there was a great failure in the US to build out newer nuclear plants in the latter years of the 20th century. Unfortunately it isn't as clear as you state. Energy produces were spreading mis-information if not lies about nuclear power while the Environmental people were crying about the waste. Nuclear power is NOT without its drawbacks. I remember vividly having a PG&E rep come into our class and go through her whole spiel which included numerous falsehoods. When I called her on it she was literally dumbfounded that anyone would know enough to question her falsehoods. It took me YEARS to realize that while PG&E wasn't being trustworthy about nuclear power the other options where worse (generally). So the energy companies themselves hold some of the responsibility for the failure to build new generation nuclear reactors. People do not like being lied to or mislead and often will assume your goals are suspect because of it.

Comment: Actions speak louder than words (Score 4, Insightful) 200

by forand (#47536403) Attached to: Cable Companies: We're Afraid Netflix Will Demand Payment From ISPs
This might be reasonable if it was coming from a group who hadn't spent huge sums of money fighting to stop legislation that would have made it illegal for either netflix or comcast to charge for the specific route. That being said if Comcast, Time Warner, etc. make Netflix pay to be inside their networks now and in the future Netflix turns around and says "if you don't pay us to stay we will remove our servers from your networks and your customers will have to get Netflix through standard routing" then I have no sympathy for them but they may be right in worrying.

Comment: Re:You have this backwards. (Score 5, Insightful) 749

by forand (#47453177) Attached to: Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours
I agree with everything you have stated. However, the situation is not one of Microsoft being required to produce their own documents, they are being required to produce other's documents. So the analogy would be that Microsoft has a rental storage facility in Ireland and the US wants them to riffle through a unit and send some documents they find. That is far less reasonable and clear cut as your summary.

Comment: Ethical Responsibility (Score 5, Insightful) 130

by forand (#47344103) Attached to: In 2012, Facebook Altered Content To Tweak Readers' Emotions
This is quite interesting research that should never have been done. I am rather surprised that the National Academy published the results of a study which violated multiple ethical guidelines put in place to protect human subjects. Did Facebook track the number of suicides in the 700,000 sample? Was the rate of those given a sadder than average stream have a higher or lower rate? Do the Facebook researchers address the ethical questions posed by performing such an experiment at all?

Comment: Bad summary/Theory Conflicts with data (Score 2) 347

by forand (#47311399) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

The summary (and linked article) do a poor job of explaining the process and imply some change in the speed of light (there isn't one). The problem with the article (http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.6986) is that it ignores a bunch of more relevant data: Fermi-LAT observed photons from the same GRB over a very wide energy range placing an extremely good limit on effects like this proposed in the article (http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.3463).

Furthermore this is NOT new; the original article was posted in 2011 and only recently published in the "New Journal of Physics" which has apparently only published 16 volumes and I believe has had its email permanently redirected to my spam box.

Finally why do people link to Medium and not the actual article for physic related news items? We have demanded open, free access to all our papers since the birth of the internet (I speak as a physicist). Do everyone a favor and find the arxiv link and include it in your summary when submitting physics stories to Slashdot.

Comment: Very short time window (Score 1) 686

by forand (#47219099) Attached to: Aliens and the Fermi Paradox
We have had the ability to send out communications to the cosmos roughly the same amount of time we have had weapons capable of killing us all if used improperly. What are the odds that we will have sent something to someone listening before we either kill ourselves or are thrown back into the stone ages by some natural event? Basically I do not find it hard to believe that intelligent life, over time, may not be so great at propagating itself for the time needed to communicate with other civilizations.

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